The word “balm” denotes a fragrant, healing or soothing lotion. Derived from the earlier word “balsam” – a fragrant, aromatic, often resinous substance oozing from various plants, balms are synonymous with gentle healing of the skin.
Prior to modern industrialisation, almost all skin care products were balms. These balms were made by shamans, elders and the wise women of tribes or cultures who had a long-standing relationship with natural ingredients, especially plants.
It is in this tradition that Tui Balms has come to make massage balms, Bee Balm and other natural balms. Characteristically, the balms we make at Tui Balmes rely greatly upon pure essential oils for their active and fragrant properties.
When the first product (Bee Balm) was developed back in 1984 it was the preference of its creator to use Bee Balme as the name rather than Bee Balm. When the creation was donated to the Coop we initially retained the 'Balme' wording but in 2010 we have reverted to the term 'Balm' in both our trading name and product names. This term links our products to the tradition or lineage of natural balm making since our balms and Massage balms use only natural source ingredients. In growing much of our own food organically, growing herbs for our own consumption and working with the principles of Permaculture, we feel we have a practical connection to the balm makers of days gone by.
Traditional balms are different to modern medicines. They can be equally effective and in some cases more so. But they often need to be worked with differently. Balms, like Tui Bug Balm (natural insect repellent), may need to be applied more frequently than heavy-handed synthetic equivalents. Similarly, it is important to keep in mind that a balm, like our bee balm, is a gentle healing substance and might need to be applied over a longer period of time than say, modern immune response suppressers, like hydrocortisones. Balms generally are positive healers. In this sense, they nurture and nourish the skin to health rather than negatively suppressing symptoms or killing off organisms, including those that are beneficial. This is not to say that our balms are devoid of any antiseptic properties. Our bee balm for instance contains Propolis, which has anti-bacterial qualities, while Tui Throat & Chest Balm is a balm that contains antiseptic tea tree oil.
Balms soothe and nurture while being gentle and safe; they enhance and assist the body’s own natural pathways to health. The essential oils we use in our balms and waxes are often targeted towards overall effects like relaxation (Lavender Massage & Body Balm) rather than acting as broad spectrum “cure all” silver bullets. The effects these balms have are therefore beneficial holistically. In the same vein, the certified organic NZ beeswax and pure vegetable oils we use in all our balms are ideal carriers of the other active ingredients. They moisten and nourish the skin also, rather than being extra unnecessary material that serves no good purpose. This is in stark contrast to many pharmaceuticals that can contain a wide range of ingredients unnecessary to healing and even potentially damaging to health.